Croatia’s Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs has rejected as unfounded a diplomatic note written by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina regarding the announcement of a statement of an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the Croatian part of the Sea Adriatic.
BiH Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovined wrote the letter in late January following the announcement that Croatia would declare an EEC, stating that it endangers the rights of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in particular its right to access the high seas.
In its response to Sarajevo, the Croatian Ministry stressed that it saw no reason for such a reaction as no violations of international law could be detected in the case, a claim agreed upon by senior BiH officials such as the current President of BiH Presidency Milorad Dodik.
In December 2020, Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic-Radman directly informed Minister Turković of all plans to declare an EEC; Croatian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Ivan Sabolic briefed the President of the BiH Council of Ministers, while Dodik later said the EEC statement did not call into question the rights of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“It should be borne in mind that the rights of Bosnia and Herzegovina were not violated in the process of declaring Croatia an exclusive economic zone and that the country is acting legally in that direction. “In order to sail from Bosnia and Herzegovina on the high seas, ie international waters, you have to go through the territorial waters of Croatia, and this is clear to anyone who sees a map, except Turkovic,” Dodik said in an earlier comment to note sent from Sarajevo to Zagreb on 27 January.
Based on these facts, the Croatian Foreign Ministry informed the BiH Foreign Ministry that it could not accept its note as a legitimate and official position of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the issue.
The declaration of Croatia’s exclusive economic zone enters into force on February 13th, and the Croatian Foreign Ministry underlined that this would not affect Bosnia and Herzegovina as the Croatian Ecological Protection and Fisheries Zone (ZERP) has been in force since 2003. ZERP will now become the exclusive economic zone.
The ministry recalled that, in line with its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Croatia had secured unimpeded access from and to the shores of Bosnia and Herzegovina to ZERP.